Honored to be interviewed for Lansing’s Capital Gains Media, “Entrepreneur returns home to grow social media company”

Honored to be interviewed for Lansing’s Capital Gains Media, “Entrepreneur returns home to grow social media company”

I was thrilled when the Small Business Development Center asked to feature Glow Social Media for their local coverage for National Small Business Week. But to have press want to interview me for even more information was an honor!  I spoke with Ann from Capital Gains Media, a local online publication about how I got into social media and why I #LoveLansing.IMG_8668

Personally, I’ve always loved social media. I remember updating my MySpace page religiously, and racing to get my college email activated so I could sign up for Facebook. I have always had an affinity for communicating and bringing people together through the internet, and through college I was constantly updating Facebook albums and event walls.

My first social media position was a joint social media internship at Disney, splitting my weeks between Disney Institute and Disney’s Fairy Tale Weddings & Honeymoons. I then went on to accept a role as Assistant Manager, Social Media with Disney’s Fairy Tale Weddings & Honeymoons. I learned so much from the big D, and the amazing marketing and social media leaders on my teams. It was a huge opportunity and lead directy to my position as Social Media Specialist at gmcTV (now UPtv). I was their first social media hire, and we both learned a lot about how hard having just one dedicated social media professional in a company can be, for the business and the employee. I was overwhelmed, and my learnings there really shaped the concept for Glow Social Media’s agency feel.

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I am thankful to have started the company in Atlanta, and learning about running a business in a fast paced, tech-friendly environment. But, moving back to Lansing, and returning to my roots has been tremendous. I am glad to bring jobs, and knowledge, to the Greater Lansing community, where a lot of old misconceptions about social media are just waiting to be dissolved!

 Read an excerpt from the interview below.

When Courtney Maki was ready to graduate college and start her career,it was as if the stars aligned when she landed a job in social media.11187171_10155710960975556_3797933207294371848_o

“I fell in love with social media,” says the now business owner of a growing social media company in Lansing. “I’ve always been social, so to have the opportunity to connect with people world-wide is just an amazing feeling.”

Maki has transformed a passion that started with Disney and an Atlanta-based TV network into a small business focused on social media strategy. She founded Glow Social Media in Atlanta in 2012, then leveraged the virtual qualities of the business to move back to Lansing in November 2013. Since her homecoming, Maki has remained true to her nature, renewing old acquaintances and cultivating social media networks for a variety of businesses and organizations in mid-Michigan.

“Atlanta was a good place to start a company,” says Maki. “But Lansing is a good place to grow one. There are not a lot of other firms here that offer exactly what we do.”

Glow specializes in developing brand awareness, generating inbound traffic, and encouraging product and brand adoption through…Read the full article.

Source: Courtney Maki, Owner, Glow Social Media
Writer: Ann Kammerer, News Editor, Capital Gains Media

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Join me June 2 at the Lansing Regional Chamber for the Business Education Series – Social Media Panel

Join me June 2 at the Lansing Regional Chamber for the Business Education Series – Social Media Panel

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I am thrilled to announce I will be one of three speakers featured on a Social Media panel for the June Business Education Series by the Lansing Regional Chamber of Commerce. If you’re in Greater Lansing, come out Tuesday, June 2 8-9:30 and there will be light breakfast, which is a plus! Click here to register.

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What does the future of social media look like for small and medium size businesses? How can you manage Facebook, Twitter, and other social media and still have time to run the business? What about Pinterest, Tumblr, or Instagram? Get advice from our panel of social media experts who will share tips and strategies about how to find new customers and generate more sales using Facebook, Twitter, and other social media platforms. Confirmed presenters include Julie Holton, Director of Marketing, Fraser Trebilcock, Kate Snyder, APR, principal strategist and owner, Piper & Gold Public Relations and Courtney Maki, founder, Glow Social Media.
COULD LANSING BECOME A STARTUP CITY? 50 STARTUPS LATER, WE THINK SO.

COULD LANSING BECOME A STARTUP CITY? 50 STARTUPS LATER, WE THINK SO.

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I met Jesse Flores, an former ATLien like me, last year at a Lansing Regional Chamber strategy session. We’d “met” on twitter a few weeks prior so it was fun to connect in person. I am really excited about the work he’s doing with StartUp Lansing and look forward to what he will bring Greater Lansing in 2015. And as the owner of a two year old business, Glow Social Media, I’m continuing to grow in this community as well. 

In a recent post, Jesse talks about the 50 start ups he’s featured on his website, the various incubators around town, as well as launch programs like The Hatch. Here’s more from Jesse:

An important milestone was reached last week and I completely missed it. Two weeks ago, with our feature of Ventatti, we featured our 50th Startup Spotlight.

This is really exciting. It’s also important for a variety of reasons.

First, it means StartupLansing has been able to go strong for about a year. When we launched this, I wasn’t sure we’d last a few months. Yet, here we are. In fact, we’ve seen our readership and traffic grow quite a bit each month.

Much more importantly, it means that we’ve been able to find – and feature – a different startup for 50 weeks straight. That’s 50 startups. From Lansing.

And it’s not all.

Startups of All Shapes and Sizes

These 50 startups are each of them unique. They are in different industries ranging from fashion to tech to healthcare. They are at various stages of growth. But, they are doing their part to grow their businesses which, over time, will grow and diversify our local economy.

In fact, some of the startups are doing quite well. Like Signing Saavy, which has millions of users, Health Numeric, who’s traction and growth is starting to accelerate, and Courseweaver, who just raised a $600k round.

Many are startups, founded by students out of the Hatch. Startups like Tech Twurl, who are generating revenue and recently competed in a nationally selective competition at South By Southwest. Or OneSound, who is competing at Greenlight next week. There’s even a startup that lets you run around in a giant bubble.

But, contrary to perception, not all startups are being founded by students. People in the community are starting companies, too.

We have makers and fashion startups and other sorts of small businesses. Some, like Poochie Bowl, cross categories – they have a retail location in Meridian Mall, where they not only sell their flagship product, but encourage children to tinker and learn to build their own products through their Mini Maker space.

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At The Runway, Lansing’s newest incubator, several fashion companies are starting to take off. Companies that focus on things like men’s accessories, baby clothes, or clothes that allow you to look nice and be comfortable, without worrying about being too hot or sweating (Lawrence Hunt & Our Own).

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Many are in the seminal stages of growth. This is especially the case for  many of the companies we feature that are born out of The Hatching, a pitch competition event that occurs on the last Thursday of every month (the next one is this Thursday at Dublin Square, if you’d like to check it out). But every company starts somewhere.

And some have failed. But, that’s to be expected. It’s a healthy sign that people are trying to move the needle forward.

The crazy thing is that these 50 companies are just a drop in the bucket of a broader entrepreneurial ecosystem. See, we operate on a shoestring budget (our operating budget is entirely funded by revenue from my software company) and only have the bandwidth to feature just one startup or entrepreneurial project a year. I know there are dozens we’re missing.

Maybe more.

For instance, Spartan Innovations, the arm of Michigan State University charged with taking university intellectual property to market, is working daily to find – and launch – companies that could potentially transform their industry and the region. Seasoned founders, like Jason Schreiber (who founded – and sold – Arialink, currently launching Lightspeed) are launching other companies, too.

It’s an exciting time to be working on a business here.

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People Are Trying

When I moved here nearly eighteen months ago (how time flies!), I was skeptical that I’d find any real, interesting startup activity. I had braced myself to be bored and planned to spend time hopping back and forth from here to Atlanta as much as possible. Atlanta, after all, is becoming a hot city for startups (though, it’s not really known as one…sound familiar?).

How wrong I’ve been.

It’s small, but the entrepreneurial ecosystem here is growing. For instance, one of the indicators of a healthy startup community is the frequency of consistent, well-attended, relevant events. Last year, we could rely on the Hatching as that event. In some months, it felt like the only event, as we struggled to figure out what to put on our calendar and feature in the newsletter.

Now, we have the Hatching, Startup Grind, Tech Tuesday, and Innovate State, for starters, that happen every month (or, each week, in the case of Tech Tuesday). We’ve had twoStartupWeekendsone 3 Day Startup, and a Maker Week in the past six months or so. And take a look at our event calendar; on many weeks there is more than one event targeted at the startup community.

That’s amazing.

The point is that people here are trying. The startup community is growing. People are pursuing their ideas and pursuing their dreams. And that’s what it takes.

That’s how we transform a culture, it’s how we transform an economy.

Still a Ways to Go

Despite what progress has been made this past year, there is still a ways to go. We still need support systems to help startups excel beyond the idea stage and into growth. We don’t have many startups yet that have started to experience the kind of aggressive growth that attracts outside capital. Some, but not many.

For example, a private accelerator, on the order of something like TechStars, would be a huge asset. I personally would love to see a relationship established with Flashpoint, the accelerator I participated in while in Atlanta. They have a close relationship with Georgia Tech and I think the model might translate nicely to MSU. More importantly, Flashpoint has taken several companies to market, many of whom have raised money from the likes of Andreessen Horowitz, Kleiner Perkins, Union Square Ventures, or Google Ventures.

You know, small, local firms.

We need more, experienced founders helping less-experienced founders master important early-stage problems like customer acquisition, growth models, and building business infrastructure. Experienced founders are the only ones that can help new entrepreneurs solve these problems, because they’re hard and not obvious to people without that experience.

(As an aside, this is why I encourage every founder who is serious about growth to attend Startup Grind – Dave Smith is bringing in some top-notch speakers and you can learn a lot).

Local capital is still risk-averse and largely sitting on the sidelines, reluctant to invest in people’s ideas. I don’t blame them – the job of the investor is to fund growth, not prototypes. Still, for a community like this, in a time like this, there needs to be some mechanism for serious early-stage founders to gain access to seed capital beyond the “friends, family, and fools” round.

All said, I’m really encouraged by the activity over the past year and you should be too. The startup community is picking up momentum and it’s only a matter of time until one of our companies is listed in Forbes (Some are already in Inc.).

Bob Tresize, the CEO of LEAP wrote an excellent article for the LSJ a few months ago bidding farewell to ‘the old Lansing.’ In it, he shared how much momentum is building in the region. He lauded the various assets that the region has in its favor which, when well harnessed, will help to build a 21st century economy.

To that end, these 50 founders are doing their part to grow their businesses and enhance the region. Will you join them?

Who Are These Startups?

Want to learn more about the entrepreneurs trying to grow their businesses in Lansing? Check out our Startup Spotlights!

Jesse’s original article lives here.

The World’s Friendliest Influential Social Media Experts

The World’s Friendliest Influential Social Media Experts

talked-with-cover-06I particularly like that Gary V. is #1 on this list, as I met him while working at my very first post-grad school job as Social Media Assistant Manager of Disney’s Fairy Tale Weddings & Honeymoons at a presentation at Walt Disney World. He was so friendly and personable, and after meeting him I was hooked. Interacting with him on Twitter since then has been fun, even if he doesn’t remember we met in person!

talkedwith_info-02-2 I am looking forward to being on this list the next time it’s compiled!

For the full list visit Twtrland!

Atlanta in the Top 10 for Startups Funded

Atlanta in the Top 10 for Startups Funded

Really love to hear that Atlanta cracked the top 10 for Startups Funded in 2014. My firm, Glow Social Media was founded in Atlanta and spent it’s first formative months growing in that culture. It was an amazing place to start a business and I’m looking forward for more from the city, hopefully with the help of an organization I’m spokesperson for, The Next Big Thing Movement.

David Cummings on Startups

Lance Weatherby’s post from earlier today titled Atlanta Cracks the Top Ten highlights the latest Brookings report on first round venture investments by region showing that Atlanta comes in at #10 (tied with Houston). Put another way, every company that raised venture money for the first time in 2014 was categorized by region and Atlanta came in the 10th spot with 39 deals. Just to put it in perspective, Silicon Valley had 630 first rounds of venture investment (not counting angel rounds, follow-on rounds, etc).

Here are a few thoughts on Atlanta and the number of startups venture funded annually:

  • Cracking the top five is a long shot, but possible (the first four spots with Silicon Valley, NYC, Boston, and Los Angeles are locked down) as the regions in the top 10 are also working hard to grow their community (something miraculous like a Google-esque success story would be required to produce…

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Free Business Networking Event: “How to attract all the customers you need by using the POWER of Social Media Marketing”

Free Business Networking Event: “How to attract all the customers you need by using the POWER of Social Media Marketing”

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I am looking forward to attending a local social media focused networking event next week at one of my favorite Consignment shops in Greater Lansing. I am also hoping to provide some insight and engage in some networking and mutual learning sessions! If you’re in the Greater Lansing area you should definitely join!

Click HERE to register.

More info on the event:

Their special guest for this month, Kim Schott, will reveal the closely-guarded secrets to attracting and keeping more visitors on your web site and Social Media sites; cutting your lead costs, being seen by more prospects, increasing sales AND profits.

9:00am-9:15am – Registration & Networking
9:16am – 10:30am Seminar

In this seminar, you’ll learn:
• Why and how to engage with your audience on Social Media
• How to post compelling content to turn fans into customers
• Social media marketing resources
• And, so much more! 

Who should attend: 
• Small business and nonprofit marketers 
• People who have used Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest or LinkedIn to market their business or organization 
• People who have used other digital marketing tools to reach their audience (email, blogs, Twitter, other social media sites) 
• People who are actively posting content online

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I’m Back

I’m Back

IMG_8668Happy New Year!

A lot has changed since I last posted on this blog. A new job turned into my first layoff, which turned into becoming an entreprenuer, Co-Founder and business owner. A move back to my home-state of Michigan proved to be great for the business and my personal life.

I’m excited to share with you all musings from my “Top 3”: Fitness, Speaking and Being Social. I’ll explain why the “Top 3” and why those listed are mine.

In the meantime, connect with me on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn to stay in touch!

Thanks for reading and I look forward to blogging again!

-xoxo Courtney Lane